My Experiences in BUS 358: Innovation, Design, and Prototyping

Final Project
Make something.

Demonstrate the values of the course and incorporate the concepts and technologies that we had learned over the course of the semester.

[Design Process Steps]
DISCOVERY: My intermediate project, the RingyThingy, may have provided you with some insight into who I am – an individual who appreciates the concept that everything has a “place”, and that sometimes, that “place” needs to be well-organized. I enjoy shopping, namely grocery shopping, and I spend hours a month shopping. There is never a time that I go shopping without my cell phone and a coffee (iced, hot, whatever). I can never find a convenient way to hold either of these things since the baskets of shopping carts (all of them) have “slats” that things (phones) can fall through and other things (coffee cups) cannot balance upon easily. I needed a way to keep my phone close at hand (without it falling) and my coffee within reach (and sitting upright).
INTERPRETATION: I should either shop only at Kroger (has cupholders in its smallest carts) OR invent a cupholder for my shopping cart that I can take shopping with me (portable). I looked into pre-existing products on Amazon, and I found a few. All of the online cupholders that I found for purchase were nice, but they were either: metal and only held a cup, needed to be screwed onto a stroller/cart (not portable or convenient), or “ugly.” If I was going to have it my way, I would have to make it myself.
IDEATION: I decided that I would make a cupholder that was portable, stylish, and convenient. Oh, and it had to work. I thought I wanted a 2-cup cupholder, but then I remembered that my phone is also a problem when shopping (and also, I usually go shopping alone, so why did I need 2 cupholders?). I decided I would make a cupholder/phone holder combo that would fit on top of a shopping cart basket (the same cart sizes are used at every store I shop at, luckily) and would be easy to “grab and go.”
EXPERIMENTATION: I researched what types of wood would be easiest to cut into. I debated using plexiglass (laser cutting) OR printing my design, but after remembering the headache I had trying to scale (accurately) my intermediate project for 3D printing and realizing it might take me many, many, many prints to actually get the cupholder to fit a cart correctly, I thought wood might be the best bet since I could paint it to be “stylish.”
I researched which types of wood would be easy and discovered that Balsa wood would probably be my best bet – it would work on the laser cutter or by hand. I had already drafted a design for my cupholder – it would be just wide enough for a cup and my phone and long enough to reach the back of the basket to the front of the basket. It would not impair steering since it would sit in the center of the basket. It would need to be thick enough to not “bend” or “snap” when pressure (weight of phone, drink) were applied. And it would need to snuggly fit a cup (since there is a bit of an incline from the handle on front to the bar on back of the basket).
I decided that the measurements would need to be 16” long, 4” wide, and 1” thick to be “just right” for this project. To determine the size of the cupholder, I simply took a standard coffee cup, turned it upside down, and traced around the lid. I then measured my cellphone and added .5” on each side and traced this onto the wood. I had already taken the wood to an actual shopping cart and marked off where each handle (front) and bar (back) would be. I shaded these areas since I knew I would need to cut those out to accommodate these areas. I shaded the areas I had marked off for the cupholder and the phone holder. Now, it was time to cut. By the time I was ready to cut my design, the laser cutter was down. No big deal – I could do it by hand. With a utility knife. Why not? Lucky thinking that I bought Balsa wood J
I cut out the phone holder, since this only needed to go through one layer. Then, I cut out the cupholder on the same layer (the top layer). I used the cut on this layer to trace the area to cut on the next layer and so on and so forth until all 4 levels of the cupholder were cut out. This strategy allowed for a gentle tapering effect to take place – which accommodated for the unevenness of the shopping cart basket. After cutting all of the levels of the cup and phone holders needed, I cut the bottom level on the very bottom (where the handle and bar would go). I then glued all of the layers together using Elmer’s Maxx Strength Wood Glue. I applied all of my course’s textbooks to the top as “clamps” and left it for 2 days. After 2 days, I sanded down the inside of the cupholder as well as the edges of the entire project – it looked like 1 solid piece of wood, even though it was 4 layers of wood! After sanding, I painted the parts that would be black – the inner of the cupholder, the phone holder, the sides of the whole thing, and the entire bottom. I then painted the top my favorite color – bright purple. After two coats of paint – it was done!
EVOLUTION: I learned a lot about wood and “making” during this project. First, I learned how to “go with” the grain, especially when hand-cutting circles. I also learned how to properly measure, sand, and cut my project. I know that I could have used the laser cutter (but it did almost catch fire on me the first time…) and I also could have printed the project (in pieces – it might not have been strong enough), but I really enjoyed going back to “traditional” manufacturing means. I had never really done anything with wood, so this was fun. In order to “improve” my project, I would like to add mesh or something to the under-part of the cupholder to improve its stability and increase its ability to hold “smaller” cups – like Starbucks ones. I would also consider adding additional support to where the cupholder connects to the cart, either by adding magnets or Velcro/snap straps. One portion of continued improvement was naming my project something more original than “Shopping Cart Cupholder.” My mom actually told me upon learning what I made that I should call it the “CuppBoard.” The name stuck, and it is “The CuppBoad,” the best board for your cups and other accessories while shopping.


Pictures of Final Project – The CuppBoard: 

a(Measure Groove 1 of basket)

 b(Measure Groove 2 of basket)
c(Measure cup holder)
d(Measure cup and phone holders)
e(Cut out phone holder, 1st cup holder)
g(All cup holders cut – tappered effect for snug fit)
h(Finished cutting!)
i(Sanded cupholder – still tappered)
j(It holds a cup!)
k(Painting grooves)
l(Painting grooves)
m(Painting bottom)
o(painted top/cup holder)
p(Totally complete with paint)
q(It still holds a cup!)
r(Look! It fits on a cart! It works!)


Essay 9

Venturesome Consumption

Amar Bhide

  • “Supply side” factors (availability of venture capital, rule of law, etc.)
  • “Demand side” focusing on the neglected role that consumers play in innovation
  • Entrepreneurs are more willing to innovate – and devote resources (marketing, selling) – if they anticipate a large market for their product
  • Limited capacity of ‘backward’ countries to put new investments (and their innovations) into productive use
  • “A growing body of empirical work shows that users are the first to develop many and perhaps the most new industrial and consumer products”
  • “The contribution of users is growing steadily larger as a result of the continuing advances in computer and communications capabilities.”
  • “Learning by using” by customers often play a significant role in transforming products and redefining them
  • Purchasers cannot form objective estimates of an innovation’s risks and returns
    • Does it actually do what it is supposed to? It can also cost money later (trade-offs, costs, defects, etc). Can never be “proven good”.
  • Customers have to acquire knowledge, taste, etc. for things they use daily
  • Developers and users of innovations need high degree of venturesome resourcefulness in problem solving often times
  • Innovators must act resourcefully to novel situations with can-do, will-do, attitude, imagination, willingness to experiment, etc.
  • Not all innovations come with clear and complete instructions on how to use
    • Deriving utility from them often requires problem solving and/or learning
  • Figuring out how something is supposed to work is ½ the battle, the other ½ is making the product work well for them
  • Have to take a chance without knowing the risks/returns sometimes
  • “Users often play a venturesome or ‘entrepreneurial’ role in the design of new products, bearing ‘unmeasurable and unquantifiable’ risks and developing ground-level knowledge.”
  • The willingness and ability of users to undertake a venturesome part plays a critical role in determining the ultimate value of innovations

Intermediate Project
Design and make something that you can be proud of and that exemplifies any of the “values” of the course as outlined in the course syllabus.

The purpose of this project assignment was to allow us to use our talents and imaginations and create something that expressed our creativity and challenged us.

[Design Process Steps]
DISCOVERY: I have always had a ring holder of some type. It was usually a glass bowl with a simple “finger-like” post in the center around which you placed the rings. Loose jewelry (necklaces, earrings, etc.) were placed in the bowl part of the holder. Since everything just muddled together in the main part of the bowl, it is often difficult to fish things out (and necklaces often tended to get tangled). This annoyed me in the morning since I am not a morning person, am slightly OCD, and it took quite a bit of time. I needed a more convenient and simple way to hold jewelry.
INTERPRETATION: I should make a jewelry holder that stores my jewelry in a simpler way.
The Ringy-Thing is a custom-designed jewelry holder that accommodates two earrings, two rings, and one necklace. There is also space at the bottom for additional jewelry items and/or other accessories. The Ringy-Thing suits my needs by being user-friendly to the order in which I remove and apply my jewelry daily. While there are ring holders and jewelry boxes on the market, I either do not like or do not have room for these methods of jewelry storage, and thus the idea for the Ringy-Thing was born.
I have a particular order in which I take off (and put on) my jewelry. I first take off my earrings, then my necklace, and finally my rings. I wanted to build a jewelry holder that would suit my needs and “flow” with my usual order. I decided that I needed two short posts to hold earrings – and what better way to do that then to “drill” holes to place the earrings posts’ into? I also decided I needed a hook-like structure on which to hang the single necklace that I wear every day. Finally, I decided I needed to be able to hold two rings on the structure. Rather than just place the rings in a large bowl, I decided to add two small bowls to two new posts and place the rings in those. By placing the rings in smaller bowls (rather than the large base) it is easier to “fish them out” in the morning. Finally, I decided to still leave some space in the base for lose items, such as hair elastics and bulkier jewelry.
             I decided that I wanted to 3D print my entire project. This was very difficult, since it was the most advanced thing I had designed in CAD and since I had to design the entire thing from beginning to end. I decided to use Google SketchUp, since it had become my favorite CAD Program. The first thing I had to do was sketch on paper how I wanted my project to look – since I had a good idea in my mind, this didn’t take too long. The second thing I realized was that I would need to print my project in 2 pieces since it had 2 bowls for rings and you can’t “print in mid-air.” I decided I would make the base structure first and then make the two bowls separately. After hours and hours on SketchUp, I finally had a printable model…or so I thought.
When I went to the lab with my SketchUp file, I realized two things. First, I had not saved it in .STL format. Second, the parts appeared to be “infinite” since I had not “connected” them into one “component.” In the lab, I had to re-design the entire project! It took me a good two or so hours, but I finally had it in front of me re-made on SketchUp, and, after saving it in .STL, I was able to finally print it. I began printing it, and left it overnight. At the same time I had been re-making my base model design, I set my “bowls” (2) on the Afinia and had them printing. When they finished, I realized something horrifying – they were so small. Even though I had the dimensions of the base model AND bowls correct on SketchUp, when I moved them to print, they had scaled WAY down. Both pieces printed too small to use. I was able to print the bowls (the 2nd version) large enough, but the base model still was too small to support them. My next model would need some alterations.
EVOLUTION: Even though I was able to complete my intermediate project to some degree, I learned a lot from it. First, I learned that anytime you make something on Google SketchUp, you have to “make component” of the pieces if you want it to become a solid, printable item. Second, I learned that it is important that you really work to “scale up” your item once you “drop” it to the printing platform, since it changes size when you convert it from SketchUp to a component and drop it on the printer. Additionally, a few days after having my project (and before I took pictures of it), it broke. I realized that I had made the three posts in the front (center, left, right) very narrow, but also hollow. This made them too weak to support what they were meant to support. If I have the chance to re-print this project, I will ensure the posts are solid and I will also make sure that it is “sized up” enough to actually do its intended function(s).

RingyThingy Description:
This is my “Ringy-Thing”. It is a custom jewelry holder that was designed to accommodate the order in which I remove jewelry daily – earrings first, necklace second, and rings last. There is also room at the bottom for additional accessories, like hair elastics and bulkier jewelry. The Ringy-Thing also accommodates the order in which I apply my jewelry daily – rings first, necklace second, and earrings last. I chose to make this item because it is something I could not find elsewhere, because it filled a need that I had, and because I thought it would look cool (and serve a purpose) once it was completed.

Pictures of Intermediate Project – The RingyThingy:

39(Finished project, post-break)

40(Finished project, post-break)

41(Finished project, post-break)

Int Proj(Google SketchUp model of base, pre-printing)

Int Proj 2(Google SketchUp model of bowls, pre-printing)


Essay 8

The Process of Social Innovation

Geoff Mulgan

  • “Social enterprise and innovation: mutual self-help, microcredit, building societies, cooperatives, trade unions, etc.”
  • New models that are influential in social arenas (i.e. – child care, social care)
  • “Social Innovation refers to innovations that are social both in their ends and means”
    • Meet social needs, create greater social capacity to act/be diffused
  • Social innovation exists: aging populations, with growing global diversity, chronic disease increase, behavioral problems, transitions to adulthood, crime and punishment, Growing GDP vs. stagnating happiness levels, climate change
  • “Greatest gaps between needs and current provisions” is where social innovation opportunities lie in waiting
  • “There is constant improvement precisely because there is constant discontent.”
  • Social change is
    • Driven by a small number of heroic, energetic, impatient individuals
    • Fueled by ideas rather than an originator (or a movement)
  • Cultural basis of social innovation makes social change possible.
  • “S” curve design – starts slow, rapid growth, slows down at maturity
  • “The starting point of innovation is an idea of a need that isn’t being met, coupled with an idea of how it could be met.”
  • Looking for “positive deviants” (those doing it against the odds) can help generate ideas
  • New ideas need to be tied to new possibilities
  • Try, tinker, brainstorm lots and then eliminate, design, prototype, test, assess, scale up, diffuse, learn, and evolve.
  • Social movements need basic legal protection and status and open media to work; social innovation less likely to occur if right conditions not present.
  • Social innovations are motivated for different reasons, have different results, and meet/fill different needs than business innovations.
  • Important to understand social innovation because the key industries of this century require these approaches (a social revolution like the industrial/business ones)
  • “Addressing the barriers in the way that stand between us and social change.”

Essay 7

Innovation Blowback: Disruptive Management Practices from Asia

John Brown & John Hagel

  • The emerging world’s companies have raised their game in response to the presence of Western intruders and the competition that they create
  • Emerging markets are generating a new wave of disruptive products and process innovations
  • Low income in emerging markets means the spending behavior of this immerse group is “obtainable” if you penetrate the market with changed prices most can afford
  • “Go back to the drawing board” as a company to find ways to sell in these places
    • Strip costs, rethink processes, deliver and design offerings differently
  • “Turn blowback to their advantage by building distinctive capabilities in the low-income segments of emerging economies before other companies do”
  • Price competition can erode the profit margins of assemblers and suppliers, jeopardizing both of their abilities to invest further in product innovation
  • “The need to serve low-income customers in challenging conditions spurs innovation”
  • “If you’re not participating in the mass-market segment of emerging economies, you are not developing the capabilities you will need to compete back home” – go offshore and serve the mass market
    • Specialize – new capabilities; choose what to do yourself and what to collaborate on; find partners that enhance and complement your capabilities
    • Orchestrate Process Networks – set-up, access, develop, orchestrate networks
    • Orchestrate Innovation Networks – generate the friction that you need to shape and sharpen learning through diff backgrounds and skills

Essay 5

The Rules of Innovation

Clayton Christensen

  • Important variables that affect the probability of success in innovations
      • Taking root in disruption, necessary scope to succeed, leveraging the right capabilities, and disrupting competitors (not customers)
    • Taking Root in Disruption
      • Companies stumble because they are well managed, not because they are poorly managed
      • Leading companies are likely to topple when disruptive technologies emerged
      • Disruptive innovations don’t initially perform well for mainstream markets but they are simple, convenient, or low cost and appeal to a new set of customers who use them in new (or low-end) applications
      • Taking root in disruption is the first condition for innovators to meet to improve the probability of successfully creating a new-growth business.
        • Two Tests to assess if a market can be disrupted
          • 1. Does the innovation enable more than previously possible? 2. Does it target a “new” group than before?
    • Pick the Scope Needed to Succeed
      • “Degree of Integration”
    • Leverage the Right Capabilities
      • Determine innovation limits: Do I have what I need? Will my organization’s processes succeed in this effort? Will the values allow employees to innovate here?
      • Technology, managers, money.
      • “Many innovations fail because managers do not know what they do now know as they make and implement their plans.”
      • Discover what customers find useful; avoid deep pockets and too much patience. “Innovators should be patient about the new venture’s size but impatient for profits.”
    • Disrupt Competitors, Not Customers
      • Minimize need for customers to reorder their lives
      • Help customers do things more simply and conveniently (watch them to learn)
      • “Don’t assume that what customers say they want to do is what they would do”

Essay 6

Customers as Innovators

Stefan Thomke & Eric Von Hippel

  • Listen to what customers want and then respond to meet or exceed needs
  • Equip customers with tools to design and develop their own products
    • “Tool Kits”
    • Less expensive
  • Allow customers to fully understand by “doing”, “trying”
  • Trial-and-error can move more quickly, needs more understood
  • THREE signs you should try customers-as-innovators approach:
    • Market segments shrinking, need many iterations to find solutions, you/competitors use high-quality computer based tools internally
  • Tool Kits must have FOUR capabilities:
    • Enable people to create through a series of design cycles w/ learning and doing, user-friendly (no new language), contain libraries of useful components/modules that are debugged and tested, and contain info on capabilities and limitations of the production process to be used (ability to produce)
  • Satisfies customers better (they know what they want, after all)
  • Designs completed faster
  • Designs manufactured first go-round
  • Do business w/ small customers (previously unable to – money)
  • Better serve larger, preferred customers
  • Use INCENTIVES to induce employees to support the needed mindset to do it
      • FIVE STEPS for customers-to-innovators
        • 1. Develop user-friendly toolkit
        • 2. Increase flexibility of your production processes
        • 3. Carefully select first customers to use the tool kit
        • 4. Evolve tool kit continually and rapidly to satisfy customers
        • 5. Adapt your business processes accordingly
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